Tag Archives: onions

8 Fruits and Vegetables that Don’t belong in your Refrigerator

How to keep your fruits and vegetables tasting as they should.

In a perfect world we’d shop daily and prepare what we purchased for that evening’s meal.  But, we all know it’s just not that easy to get to the market every day.  So, you go to the market and buy everything on your list making sure that you pick the freshest fruits and vegetables possible.

But, then you get home and the indecision sets in.  You begin to ask yourself – does this belong in the refrigerator or should it stay on the counter?  Will this spoil quicker if I leave it out?  Will it taste the same if I refrigerate it as it would if I just left it on the counter?

The answer is:  some produce needs to be stored in the refrigerator but some do significantly better if left out on the counter!  Here are the 8 fruits and vegetables that you should just leave out.

  1. Tomatoes – in season or out they will ripen perfectly if left on the counter. When you put them in the refrigerator their texture becomes mealy and really not very appealing.  If you’ve waited until tomato season (May through October with some differences depending on where you live) to enjoy their amazing flavor – do NOT refrigerate them!
  2. Garlic, Onions, and Shallots – these alliums do best in a cool, dry, dark place where they can breathe. Do not leave them in the plastic bag you used to bring them home from the market.  The only alliums that actually should be stored in the refrigerator are spring onions and scallions.
  3. Thick skinned squash – like Acorn, Butternut and Kabocha should stay at room temperature. Thin skinned summer squash like zucchini are the exception and should go into the refrigerator.
  4. Potatoes – of all types (including sweet potatoes) – like alliums like cool, dark, dry places. Sunlight and moisture facilitate ‘sprouting’ which is something you want to avoid.  The sprouts won’t kill you but they taste terrible and will need to be trimmed off before you use the potatoes.
  5. Fresh Corn – this one is a bit tricky. If you’re going to use the corn within a day or two then leave it on the counter and save some space in the fridge.  But, if you need to keep it longer than 2 days then it needs to be in the refrigerator to keep its freshness.
  6. Stone Fruit – like peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, etc. are in season now. Just like tomatoes their flesh will go mealy if stored in the fridge so keep them on the counter.
  7. Pineapples – a little secret – once picked they will not continue to ripen so buy one that is ripe and ready to eat the day you’re purchasing it and then just leave it on the counter until you cut it. The refrigerator will have absolutely no effect on its ripeness.
  8. Melon – this one is strictly a preference. If you keep your uncut melon on the counter at room temperature the flesh remains as soft as possible.  When you refrigerate it, the flesh become more firm or crisp, so it really depends on how you like it.

And now you know the ‘rules’ on which fruits and vegetables to refrigerate and which to just leave on the counter!

Kitchen Hints: The Three Most Common Onions you need daily.

three common most onion

White, Red, and Yellow Onions are the three that you need in your kitchen, indeed!

A friend of mine told me about this 7-onion soup that she had the other day. She said it was so good and so tasty that she wanted to figure out how she might make it at home. Then she paused and admitted, “I had no idea there were seven onions!”

There are a lot more than that and here are my top 11:

Ramps – also known as “wild onions” are really great for roasting and in soups. They add a sweet garlic flavor.

Cipollini onions are the little fat disc-shaped onions that are fabulous to caramelize or sauté with other veggies. They’re incredibly versatile and mild and will go with just about any dish.

Shallots are a member of the allium family (like garlic) and not really onions but are used like them in so many Asian noodle dishes.  They’re great raw or cooked.

Scallions, also known as green onions, are especially popular in Asian dishes, but are also used as garnish and toppers for soup.

Leeks, the Japanese call them “Negi,” look like oversized scallions, but they’re not. You’ll find them in Asian soups and stir fry.

Vidalias, like white onions, are very sweet and ideal for making onion rings.

Maui, similar to white and Vidalias, are also sweet, but tend to be a bit more watery. And, yes, they originate from Hawaii.

Pearls – the tiny white onions – are very mild and sweet. We love pickled pearls in certain mixed drinks (like a perfect Gibson martini) but they’re also fabulous for stews, soups, and for roasting.

Read: How to dice an onion – the easy way.

Some of these might be a tad obscure. If you love fine restaurant dining, likely as not, you’ve had most of them in or on your dish at one point or another. But, before these unusual varieties are the three most common onions that EVERYONE knows and uses:

White onions are the mildest of the common three varieties. As I mentioned, they’re similar to Vidalia and Maui, but they have a much higher sugar content than the other two and, in my opinion, wins the distinction as the true “Sweet Onion.” My friend, the historian, eats these raw with a dab of salt. If you’re going to eat a raw onion – this is the one to reach for.  You can make it even sweeter by slicing them thin and soaking the slices in cold water for about an hour.

Red onions are relatively sweet as well, but they have a bit of that “oniony” sharpness in their flavor and a slightly more potent smell than the others. They also have a higher sugar content which makes them perfect for pickling or grilled and on your hamburger!

Yellow (or Spanish) onions are also known as “brown” onions. Like the red, they have a stronger flavor than the others, so we don’t usually eat these raw. In my opinion, yellows ought to be cooked 100% of the time for that beautiful onion flavor.  When they’re cooked, the intense sharpness evolves into a delicious sweetness which makes them the perfect choice of onion to caramelize. A little tip: you’ll get much more flavor from yellows caramelized than you will from the white onion which won’t hold up as well.

So, the three most common onions may soon be your go-to ingredients: white onions are raw, red onions are grilled, and yellows are caramelized. See my video for more descriptions and cooking ideas.

A new way to prepare and serve onions?

better way to serve onions?

Tried everything to stop the weeping and smell from onions? Try this!

I happen to love onions: red, white, yellow, green – it doesn’t matter which one, I love them all – when they’re in my food as part of a dish. But not so much when the smell just hangs around the kitchen (sometimes for days) like a guest who hasn’t gotten the hint that it’s time to go home.

And the tears. I don’t like the tears.

If you’re like me, you’ve tried all kinds of “tricks” on how to stop all the stinging and crying that comes with preparing onions. I tried freezing onions, but they’re harder to cut. I also tried cutting onions under water, but the onions get slippery and that’s very dangerous. I even tried holding a piece of bread in my mouth. Less dangerous but you end up looking weird, your eyes still tear and the kitchen still smells.

I even heard about putting a burning match in your mouth – but that’s not one I’m going to try! A friend uses swimming goggles in his kitchen – for cutting onions and crushing garlic. Cute, but another idea I’m NOT going to try.

So, imagine my surprise when I was let in on a professional kitchen secret… twenty years in the restaurant business, and it’s not easy to surprise me anymore!

This is a trick from a friend of mine, Christine Moore who is the founder and chef of Little Flower Candy Co. and Lincoln – two great places to visit for breakfast and lunch or early dinner if you happen to be in Pasadena, CA.

So, okay. We all know that onions are a great way to help build flavor in a recipe in so many different ways but they come with a price.  Look at what we all suffer though: runny nose, stinging eyes, and a really strong smell that fills the kitchen and refrigerator during and after you’ve been cutting, slicing, and dicing.  Not only does it permeate whatever container you’ve put them in but that smell can linger in the kitchen for days. Just when you think that awful smell has finally cleared, you pull out those chopped onions from the refrigerator, you open the container – and you are hit with it all over again!

As it turns out, onions aren’t just a wonderful addition to a recipe they are healthy for you too. They’re full of vitamins, proteins and things that nutritionist call “essential elements” like amino acids which your body really needs to stay healthy.

But all of this goodness comes at a price. Onions are typically grown in sulfur rich soil and that sulfur becomes part of a plant protein (sulfur-based precursors).  When you cut open an onion these precursors meet with enzymes called allinases that produce sulfenic acid which rises as a gas and reacts with moisture – like your eyes and nose – to form a mild form of sulfuric acid! And we all start to cry…

But wait, there’s more. During the chemical reaction, you get thiosulfinates – that’s what produces the raw onion smell. Guess what? That stuff just stinks. It’s not acidic. Which means we can now dispense with that old rumor that the smell is what causes the weepy eyes. Thus, the more you cut, the more of both of these things will fly through the air in your kitchen and your whole house!

Which brings me back to Chef Moore’s little surprise tip, which has been thoroughly tested by me and my friends.

Step one: Fill a bowl with ice water and place a sieve or colander in the bowl so that it is submerged in the ice water.

Step two: Use a sharp knife – you’ll work faster and it damages fewer of those pesky cells that release the allinases – and cut your onion in half.

Step three: Place in the halves in the ice water for a minute. Remove the halves.

Step four: Finish your slicing and dicing of the onion and place those pieces back in the sieve (or colander) and ice water for another minute.

Step five: Remove the sieve. Dispose of the water.

One friend told me that he was preparing a recipe that called for minced onions. He sliced the onion thin, dipped the slices in the ice water, then minced without dipping. The trick worked. He also claims that the onion taste in his dish seemed richer (he was making a soup).

Your cut onions will no longer have a strong smell and will not burn your eyes. Added plus: using this method means that you can store prepared onions to your heart’s desire – and not stink up your refrigerator or your kitchen! One more plus: because the production of acids is limited, cooked or raw cut onions won’t burn your stomach as much.

Isn’t this BRILLIANT? Thanks Chef Moore! Now we can enjoy our onions in peace!